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The gardens at Wrayth were famous. The natural beauty of their position
and the endless care of generations of loving mistresses had left them a
monument of what nature can be trained into by human skill. They had
also in the eighteenth century by some happy chance escaped the hand of
Capability Brown. And instead of pulling about and altering the taste of
the predecessor the successive owners had used fresh ground for their
fancies. Thus the English rose-garden and the Dutch-clipped yews of
William-and-Mary's time were as intact as the Italian parterre.
But November is not the time to judge of gardens, and Tristram wished
the sun would come out. He waited for his bride at the foot of the Adam
staircase, and, at eleven, she came down. He watched her as she put one
slender foot before the other in her descent, he had not noticed before
how ridiculously inadequate they were--just little bits of baby feet,
even in her thick walking-boots. She certainly knew how to dress--and
adapt herself to the customs of a country. Her short, serge frock and
astrakhan coat and cap were just the things for the occasion; and she
looked so attractive and chic, with her hands in her monster muff, he
began to have that pain again of longing for her, so he said icily:
"The sky is gray and horrid. You must not judge of things as you will
see them to-day; it is all really rather nice in the summer."
"I am sure it is," she answered meekly, and then could not think of
anything else to say, so they walked on in silence through the courtyard
and round under a deep, arched doorway in the Norman wall to the
southern side of the Adam erection, with its pillars making the
centerpiece. The beautiful garden stretched in front of them. This
particular part was said to have been laid out from plans of Le Notre,
brought there by that French Lady Tancred who had been the friend of
Louis XIV. There were traces of her all over the house--Zara found
afterwards. It was a most splendid and stately scene even in the dull
November gloom, with the groups of statuary, and the _tapis vert_, and
the general look of Versailles. The vista was immense. She could see far
beyond, down an incline, through a long clearing in the park, far away
to the tower of Wrayth church.
"How beautiful it all is!" she said, with bated breath, and clasped her
hands in her muff. "And how wonderful to have the knowledge that your
family has been here always, and these splendid things are their
creation. I understand that you must be a very proud man."
This was almost the longest speech he had ever heard her make, in
ordinary conversation--the first one that contained any of her thoughts.
He looked at her startled for a moment, but his resolutions of the night
before and his mood of suspicion caused him to remain unmoved. He was
numb with the pain of being melted one moment with hope and frozen again
the next; it had come to a pass now that he would not let himself
respond. She could almost have been as gracious as she pleased, out in
this cold, damp air, and he would have remained aloof.
"Yes, I suppose I am a proud man," he said, "but it is not much good to
me; one becomes a cynic, as one grows older."
Then with casual indifference he began to explain to her all about the
gardens and their dates, as they walked along, just as though he were
rather bored but acting cicerone to an ordinary guest, and Zara's heart
sank lower and lower, and she could not keep up her little plan to be
gentle and sympathetic; she could not do more than say just "Yes," and
"No." Presently they came through a door to the hothouses, and she had
to be introduced to the head gardener, a Scotchman, and express her
admiration of everything, and eat some wonderful grapes; and here
Tristram again "played the game," and chaffed, and was gay. And so they
went out, and through a clipped, covered walk to another door in a wall,
which opened on the west side--the very old part of the house--and
suddenly she saw the Italian parterre. Each view as she came upon it she
tried to identify with what she had seen in the pictures in _Country
Life_, but things look so different in reality, with the atmospheric
effects, to the cold gray of a print. Only there was no mistake about
this--the Italian parterre; and a sudden tightness grew round her heart,
and she thought of Mirko and the day she had last seen him. And Tristram
was startled into looking at her by a sudden catching of her breath, and
to his amazement he perceived that her face was full of pain, as though
she had revisited some scene connected with sorrowful memories. There
was even a slight drawing back in her attitude, as if she feared to go
on, and meet some ghost. What could it be? Then the malevolent sprite
who was near him just now whispered: "It is an Italian garden, she has
seen such before in other lands; perhaps the man is an Italian--he
looks dark enough." So instead of feeling solicitous and gentle with
whatever caused her pain--for his manners were usually extremely
courteous, however cold--he said almost roughly:
"This seems to make you think of something! Well, let us get on and get
it over, and then you can go in!"
He would be no sympathetic companion for her sentimental musings--over
Her lips quivered for a moment, and he saw that he had struck home, and
was glad, and grew more furious as he strode along. He would like to
hurt her again if he could, for jealousy can turn an angel into a cruel
fiend. They walked on in silence, and a look almost of fear crept into
her tragic eyes. She dreaded so to come upon Pan and his pipes. Yes, as
they descended the stone steps, there he was in the far distance with
his back to them, forever playing his weird music for the delight of all
She forgot Tristram, forgot she was passionately preoccupied with him
and passionately in love, forgot even that she was not alone. She saw
the firelight again, and the pitiful, little figure of her poor, little
brother as he poured over the picture, pointing with his sensitive
forefinger to Pan's shape. She could hear his high, childish voice say:
"See, Ch�risette, he, too, is not made as other people are! Look, and he
plays music, also. When I am with _Maman_ and you walk there you must
remember that this is me!"
And Tristram, watching her, knew not what to think. For her face had
become more purely white than usual, and her dark eyes were swimming
God! how she must have loved this man! In wild rage he stalked beside
her until they came quite close to the statue in the center of the
star, surrounded by its pergola of pillars, which in the summer were gay
with climbing roses.
Then he stepped forward, with a sharp exclamation of annoyance, for the
pipes of Pan had been broken and lay there on the ground.
Who had done this thing?
When Zara saw the mutilation she gave a piteous cry; to her, to the
mystic part of her strange nature, this was an omen. Pan's music was
gone, and Mirko, too, would play no more.
With a wail like a wounded animal's she slipped down on the stone bench,
and, burying her face in her muff, the tension of soul of all these days
broke down, and she wept bitter, anguishing tears.
Tristram was dumbfounded. He knew not what to do. Whatever was the
cause, it now hurt him horribly to see her weep--weep like this--as if
with broken heart.
For her suffering was caused by remembrance--remembrance that, absorbed
in her own concerns and heart-burnings over her love, she had forgotten
the little one lately; and he was far away and might now be ill, and
She sobbed and sobbed and clasped her hands, and Tristram could not bear
it any longer.
"Zara!" he said, distractedly. "For God's sake do not cry like this!
What is it? Can I not help you--Zara?" And he sat down beside her and
put his arm round her, and tried to draw her to him--he must comfort her
whatever caused her pain.
But she started up and ran from him; he was the cause of her
[Illustration: "'Zara!' he said distractedly.... 'Can I not help
"Do not!" she cried passionately, that southern dramatic part of her
nature coming out, here in her abandon of self-control. "Is it not
enough for me to know that it is you and thoughts of you which have
caused me to forget him!--Go! I must be alone!"--and like a fawn she
fled down one of the paths, and beyond a great yew hedge, and so
disappeared from view.
And Tristram sat on the stone bench, too stunned to move.
This was a confession from her, then--he realized, when his power came
back to him. It was no longer surmise and suspicion--there was some one
else. Some one to whom she owed--love. And he had caused her to forget
him! And this thought made him stop his chain of reasoning abruptly. For
what did that mean? Had he then, after all, somehow made her feel--made
her think of him? Was this the secret in her strange mysterious face
that drew him and puzzled him always? Was there some war going on in her
But the comforting idea which he had momentarily obtained from that
inference of her words went from him as he pondered, for nothing proved
that her thoughts of him had been of love.
So, alternately trying to reason the thing out, and growing wild with
passion and suspicion and pain, he at last went back to the house
expecting he would have to go through the ordeal of luncheon alone; but
as the silver gong sounded she came slowly down the stairs.
And except that she was very pale and blue circles surrounded her heavy
eyes, her face wore a mask, and she was perfectly calm.
She made no apology, nor allusion to her outburst; she treated the
incident as though it had never been! She held a letter in her hand,
which had come by the second post while they were out. It was written by
her uncle from London, the night before, and contained his joyous news.
Tristram looked at her and was again dumbfounded. She was certainly a
most extraordinary woman. And some of his rage died down and he decided
he would not, after all, demand an explanation of her now; he would let
the whole, hideous rejoicings be finished first and then, in London, he
would sternly investigate the truth. And not the least part of his pain
was the haunting uncertainty as to what her words could mean, as
regarded himself. If by some wonderful chance it were some passion in
the past and she now loved him, he feared he could forgive her--he
feared even his pride would not hold out over the mad happiness it would
be to feel her unresisting and loving, lying in his arms!
So with stormy eyes and forced smiles the pair sat down to luncheon, and
Zara handed him the epistle she carried in her hand. It ran:
"MY DEAR NIECE:
"I have to inform you of a piece of news that is a great gratification
to myself, and I trust will cause you, too, some pleasure.
"Lady Ethelrida Montfitchet has done me the honor to accept my proposal
for her hand, and the Duke, her father, has kindly given his hearty
consent to my marriage with his daughter, which is to take place as soon
as things can be arranged with suitability. I hope you and Tristram will
arrive in time to accompany me to dinner at Glastonbury House on Friday
evening, when you can congratulate my beloved fianc�, who holds you in
"I am, my dear niece, always your devoted uncle,
When Tristram finished reading he exclaimed:
"Good Lord!" For, quite absorbed in his own affairs, he had never even
noticed the financier's peregrinations! Then as he looked at the letter
again he said meditatively:
"I expect they will be awfully happy--Ethelrida is such an unselfish,
sensible, darling girl--"
And it hurt Zara even in her present mood, for she felt the contrast to
herself in his unconscious tone.
"My uncle never does anything without having calculated it will turn out
perfectly," she said bitterly--"only sometimes it can happen that he
plays with the wrong pawns."
And Tristram wondered what she meant. He and she had certainly been
pawns in one of the Markrute games, and now he began to see this object,
just as Zara had done. Then the thought came to him.--Why should he not
now ask her straight out--why she had married him? It was not from any
desire for himself, nor his position, he knew that: but for what?
So, the moment the servants went out of the room to get the
coffee--after a desultory conversation about the engagement until then,
he said coldly:
"You told me on Monday that you now know the reason I had married you:
may I ask you why did you marry me?"
She clasped her hands convulsively. This brought it all back--her poor
little brother--and she was not free yet from her promise to her uncle:
she never failed to keep her word.
A look of deep, tragic earnestness grew in her pools of ink, and she
said to him, with a strange sob in her voice:
"Believe me I had a strong reason, but I cannot tell it to you now."
And the servants reentered the room at the moment, so he could not ask
her why: it broke the current.
But what an unexpected inference she always put into affairs! What was
the mystery? He was thrilled with suspicious, terrible interest. But of
one thing he felt sure--Francis Markrute did not really know.
And in spite of his chain of reasoning about this probable lover some
doubt about it haunted him always; her air was so pure--her mien so
And while the servants were handing the coffee and still there Zara
rose, and, making the excuse that she must write to her uncle at once,
left the room to avoid further questioning. Then Tristram leant his head
upon his hands and tried to think.
He was in a maze--and there seemed no way out. If he went to her now and
demanded to have everything explained he might have some awful
confirmation of his suspicions, and then how could they go through
to-morrow--and the town's address? Of all things he had no right--just
because of his wild passion in marrying this foreign woman--he had no
right to bring disgrace and scandal upon his untarnished name: "noblesse
oblige" was the motto graven on his soul. No, he must bear it until
Friday night after the Glastonbury House dinner. Then he would face her
and demand the truth.
And Zara under the wing of Mrs. Anglin made a thorough tour of the
beautiful, old house. She saw its ancient arras hangings, and panellings
of carved oak, and heard all the traditions, and looked at the
portraits--many so wonderfully like Tristram, for they were a strong,
virile race--and her heart ached, and swelled with pride, alternately.
And, last of all, she stood under the portrait that had been painted by
Sargent, of her husband at his coming of age, and that master of art
had given him, on the canvas, his very soul. There he stood, in a
scarlet hunt-coat--debonair, and strong, and true--with all the promise
of a noble, useful life in his dear, blue eyes. And suddenly this proud
woman put her hand to her throat to check the sob that rose there; and
then, again, out of the mist of her tears she saw Pan and his broken
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